The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

March 30, 2006

Twin-Cities Pianist Will Play Music From The Past 50 Years April 10

Pianist Shannon Wettstein, a member of the contemporary music ensemble Zeitgeist in the Twin Cities, will present a University of Iowa guest recital at 8 p.m. Monday, April 10, in Harper Hall of the Voxman Music Building on the UI campus.

Wettstein's recital, featuring four works written during the past 50 years, will be free and open to the public.

Works on Wettstein's program will be "Quattro Illustrazioni" (Four illustrations), composed in 1953 by Giacinto Scelsi; "for nothing," written last year by Adam Greene; "Three Strauss Waltzes" from 1960-1968 by Michael Finnissy; and "Triad" from 1997 by David Evan Thomas.

Scelsi belonged to an aristocratic Italian family living on an estate outside Naples. Though largely self-taught, he is now recognized as one of the most creative composers of the 20th century. His mature music is marked by concentration on single notes, as well as the influence of Indian mythology and culture.

The "Quattro Illustrazioni" represent four reflections on incarnations of the Hindu deity Vishnu: Shesha, a thousand-headed snake that supports the weight of the world on its heads; Varaha a boar who travels to the depths of the oceans to battle demons who threaten the earth; Rama, who represents all that is heroic; and Krishna, the epitome of virtue and serenity.

Greene teaches music composition and theory at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His works have been performed in Europe and the United States, most notably by Ensemble Resonanz, Speculum Musicae, SONOR, flutist John Fonville, pianists Aleck Karis and Christopher Oldfather, and violinists Janos Negyesy and Paivikki Nykter. He has received a commission from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard for a new dramatic piece. His music can be found on Aucourant Records.

The title of "for nothing" is taken from Samuel Beckett's "Text for Nothing," a series of short prose pieces that cover a range of bewildering thoughts in a stream of consciousness. The composer wrote a dedication to "my friend Shannon Wettstein, whose remarkable dedication to performing challenging modern works has been both inspiring and heartwarming."

A native of England, Finnissy studied piano and composition at the Royal College of Music, London. He created the music department of the London School of Contemporary Dance and has been associated as composer with many British dance companies. He has taught throughout England and has been musician in residence to the Victorian College of the Arts, the City of Caulfield in Australia and the East London Late Starters Orchestra. In 1999 he was made professor of composition at the University of Southampton.

The "Three Strauss Waltzes" ("Where the Lemon-trees Bloom," "O Beautiful May," "Tales from the Vienna Woods") were written when Finissy was paying his way through school accompanying ballet classes. He has written that they "are not straightforward 'transcriptions'; the original sequences have been chopped up into tiny fragments, and then re-ordered, rather in the manner of the re-ordered angles and perspectives of cubist and futuristic painting. . . . The intention is to evoke the spirit and sensual elevation of a Strauss waltz, and clearly not to try and reproduce (or fake) one."

Thomas is the recipient of a McKnight Fellowship, an Award in Music from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. His music can be heard on a C.R.I. label CD. Born in Rochester, N.Y., Thomas began his training as a trumpeter, graduating with honors from the Preparatory Department of the Eastman School of Music. He received degrees from Northwestern University, Eastman and the University of Minnesota.

"Triad" is a work in three parts, in which a toccata and chaconne elaborate ideas that are united in a concluding fugue. For this reason, the individual movements are inseparable from the whole; thus, a triptych, or triad, is formed. Tonally the movements progress from E through A to C, outlining a triad of another sort.

Complete program notes for the concert can be found at: .

Wettstein has premiered numerous new works throughout the United States and internationally, including performances in New York's Lincoln Center, Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the New Zealand Embassy in Washington D.C., and the Japan America Theater in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Twin Cities-based Zeitgeist, an ensemble that has as its mission "to enliven today's music and expand its public with performances that absorb, stimulate and hearten."

Her awards include the 2003 American Composers Forum Commissioning Grant, the Merle Montgomery Grant given by Mu Phi Epsilon Foundation and grants from the Minnesota Arts Council. Her solo CD is on the Centaur label; other recordings are available on the Tzadik and Innova labels. A new CD of music by Iannis Xenakis will soon be released by Mode.

Wettstein has a doctorate from the University of California, San Diego, a master's degree with honors from the New England Conservatory and a bachelor's degree with highest distinction from the University of Kansas. She is on the faculty of Augsburg College in St. Paul and the New England Conservatory's Summer Institute for Contemporary Piano Performance.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,